Flotilla Activists Detained in Israel without Access to Lawyers, Al Mezan Calls for Investigation, Accountability, and End of the Siege of Gaza
Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights expresses its concern at the lack of information about the Free Gaza Flotilla activists. Al Mezan’s lawyer in Israel has been working closely with human rights organizations and lawyers to ensure adequate legal assistance for the activists. The activists’ families are yet to know who was killed, injured or detained.
According to Al Mezan’s lawyer, none of the activists were permitted to meet with lawyers. The Israeli government will respond to a petition submitted by three human rights organizations in Israel to the Israeli High Court. In this petition, the organizations seek to ensure that information about the activists whereabouts and health conditions will be released by the Israeli authorities.
The flotilla was intercepted in international waters. Therefore, Israel has no right to detain them. Al Mezan’s lawyer reported that Israel is treating the activists as ‘illegal immigrants’; offering them voluntarily deportation from Israel by planes. There are indications that most of the activists refuse deportation and insist on returning to their ships to come to Gaza. It is expected that they will be brought before a junior judge from the Israeli Ministry of Interior, who can extend their detention for 72 hours. The situation for a handful of Palestinian citizens of Israel is different. They are detained in Ashkelon prison and are being interrogated.
Yesterday, the activists were kept in a detention facility in the port of the town of Ashdod in southern Israel. The port area was declared a closed military zone; therefore, lawyers were not allowed to access the activists yesterday. According to the most recent information, the majority of the activists are being held in ‘Ella’ prison facility in the town of Beer Sheva.
Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights reiterates its strong condemnation of the Israeli navy’s raid on the flotilla, which took place in international waters and caused loss of civilian life. This conduct represents a flagrant violation of international law against solidarity activists who were seeking to challenge the Israeli siege of Gaza; itself a serious violation of international law. The Centre calls on international community to:
- Ensure that this attack will be promptly, credibly and independently investigated, and that the persons who prove to have ordered or committed violations of human rights will be held accountable for their acts;
- Ensure that the activists receive adequate legal assistance and access to counsel without any delay;
- Take urgent and effective steps to lift the Israeli illegal siege of the Gaza Strip, which represents a heinous act of collective punishment not permitted by international law.
(Al Mezan Center for Human Rights)
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